Food poverty, food insecurity? A city level response is possible

During an eight-month project from March-October 2015 funded by Barrow Cadbury, we asked: Is it possible to have an effective city-level response to the drivers of emergency food aid? (The answer is yes.)

And, if so, what does it look like?

In the week when an FSA report says a quarter of people living on low budgets struggle to put food on the table, we thought it useful to remind you of the project report: Food insecurity in Birmingham — a city-level response?

At the outset of this project, I didn’t think there was much the city could do, faced with external forces on our food system, and on rising inequality. I was wrong. There’s lots Bimringham — and other cities —  could do.

We determined early on in the project that any actions to achieve this had to be under-pinned by four core principles:

  1. Food security is a public good as well as a human right.
  2. Reciprocation, fairness and equality in all food exchanges whether monetized or not.
  3. Hospitality: Eating is social glue.
  4. Encourage food sector profit to derive from local entrepreneurship, not rent (e.g. as in franchises).

We consulted widely, read widely, ran a workshop, and then collated the ideas generated by everyone who took part on the project into six levels, some of which inevitably overlap. Yup, we can make a difference . . . just a quick glance through our report will tell you that.

  1. The city infrastructure
  2. Regional infrastructure
  3. Institutions
  4. “Smart” opportunities
  5. Neighbourhoods
  6. Birmingham City Council: Procurement and other commercial relationships

We were grateful to both the Barrow Cadbury Trust and ashrammoseley for their support of this project.



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